Hello readers! Today I’m starting a new series around how different areas of my life can affect my mental health (positively or negatively) with the first in the series being focussed on selling on eBay. Selling on eBay is a big part of my life so I’ll have to break this into two parts with part 2 being about sourcing stock to sell on eBay. So look out for that soon!
I’m a believer that mental health is a very personal thing, after all it’s your mind (or in this case my mind!) so I’m writing it from the perspective of my own mental health rather than a more generic post about how it can affect everyone’s mental health, either positively or negatively. However, when reading I fully expect you’ll find yourself relating to some of what I describe!
For those new to the blog and perhaps me I should explain a bit about myself before I go any further (regular readers can skip past this paragraph). I’m Andrew, a 34 year old man, from North Wales and back in 2012 I was diagnosed with severe anxiety and depression. I’ve been batting this ever since. I’ve also recently been diagnosed with Aspergers as well so there’s a lot going on in my poor little mind! I work full time and in the free time I have, I run this blog, the money mental youtube channel (which you can find by clicking here) and an eBay store through which I sell stuff that I source from a variety of places including charity shops, car boot sales, and retail stores. So that’s me, now on to the main subject!
I started selling in the middle of last year (feels weird to be saying last year, 2019 still feels a bit new!), and have experienced a few ups and downs in that time. When I started my business I was on a period of absence from work as my anxiety was through the roof. Maybe not the best time to start a new business I hear you thinking but it certainly gave me something to focus on!
And that brings me to the first positive of selling on eBay:
Mental health positives from selling on eBay:
You have to stay focused when you’re selling on eBay. It’s a marketplace that never sleeps. It’s open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days of the year. It doesn’t close for Christmas or Easter or anything else for that matter. So if you want to sell on it then you have to pay attention to it. Even at the time of writing (11 pm on a Saturday night) I’ve had to pause to negotiate a sale with a potential customer. Every day there are orders to pack and ship out. There’s new stock to list, queries from customers to answer, feedback to leave and monitor. That’s before we even come on to sourcing stock (which we’ll leave until part 2 of this article). It’s a hungry beast that demands your attention. It doesn’t give you the chance to feel low or lethargic because there’s always something for you to do. For me, this has been a massive advantage of running an eBay store as it means my mind is constantly being kept occupied. I literally don’t have the time to be feeling anxious or anything else because I’m too busy!
2. Learning new skills
I’m not the most organised of people. At all. Chaos and carnage are my normal companions throughout life. But running an eBay business doesn’t allow me to be like that. I have to keep on top of where my inventory is at all times so that I’m ready to ship it out when an order comes in. So I’ve had to learn stock control and inventory management. I need to maintain accounts showing what I’ve bought, what I’ve sold, what I’ve paid to where etc. So accounting is something I’m becoming familiar with, as well as our taxation system! Negotiating with buyers and sellers is also a skill I’ve had to learn so that I can make sure I buy stock for the best price and sell it on for the best prices as well. I’ve had to learn how to research what the best sellers are and where to buy them from. I’ve also had to learn what to stay away from as well! In a few months, my brain has become a giant sponge full of all the knowledge I’ve absorbed. In simple terms, I’ve had to learn how to build and run a successful business from the ground up. In the future, if things expand I may have to learn even more skills like maintaining my own storage space, owning and running a van and possibly also one day even having employees (if I ever go full time with this business and expand it into other areas apart from eBay!). I’ve become an expert (or at least an informed amateur) in some of the products I sell as well. Meaning I’ve learnt about antiques, collectibles, toys, games, clothes and much more! All of this has shown that no matter how anxious or worthless I’m feeling I’m still capable of learning and growing as a person.
3. Sense of Achievement
There’s a real buzz when a sale comes through. Something that I’ve taken a chance on buying has sold and for a profit as well! I guess it’s how the old hunter-gatherers must have felt when they caught their prey. Except these days my prey is a computer game, or maybe a board game, or something completely random! The animal kingdom is probably resting a bit easier in the knowledge that I’m more interested in procuring a bargain at a car boot sale than I am in my next meal! That buzz that comes doesn’t go either. Because later on there’s another sale. Followed on by another one. And so even at the points when I’m feeling low seeing a Paypal notification pop up that says someone’s just sent me some money can help banish those blues!
4. Being part of a community
When I first started selling on eBay I was aware of Nic and Andrea Hill’s blog (Adventures in Reselling which you can find by clicking here) and the youtube channel they run as well as a few other youtubers. But I was unaware of the Tat Chat Facebook group (you can apply to join it by clicking here if you’re interested in becoming or already are a reseller). It was only after I’d be selling for a few weeks that I came across this wonderful resource and through it the existence of other Facebook groups dedicated to reselling which I’ve since joined. I’m now part of a community of hundreds of active resellers who support each other by sharing their experiences (both good and bad) of reselling. I’ve found this to be a great help when I’m having bad days where I’ve had no sales or had to deal with nightmare customers. Being able to talk it through with more experienced sellers has really helped me put things into perspective and helped me keep going through some of the dark times when I’ve thought about jacking it in. Conversely, it’s a great place for sharing successes. I love the term BOLO (be on the lookout for), which is frequently used when a seller has just come across something that you can pick up for peanuts and sell for huge profits! It’s a diverse community that has been more than welcoming to me and many others. Its part of my 2019 aims to meet up with other resellers in person so it’ll probably help me conquer some of my social anxiety as well!
Mental health negatives from selling on eBay:
1. Fear of missing out
This is a fear I struggle with a lot. Being part of a community of other sellers means I often see things that people are selling on that I immediately want to rush out and buy so that I don’t miss out on any potential profits. This can be good in terms of motivating me to keep on buying. But it’s bad in that it means I have a house full of stock (a death pile or pile of shame as it’s known in the reselling community) because the simple truth is that I don’t have enough time to list what I already have. Let alone any new stock! This was a real problem for me in the first few weeks and months of being a reseller as seeing large piles of stuff that needed listing used to be a real demotivator for me. It wasn’t fun! These days I’ve learned to be a lot more disciplined and I list stock on the day I buy it. I also don’t go out sourcing stock as much because I know I need to tackle listing the stock I already have. It’s not always easy but then when I list something that I’ve been putting off for ages and it sells then it gives me a real sense of achievement! (See point 3 above!).
2. Losing motivation
There are bad days on eBay. Days when nothing sells. When all you seem to have are customers who are angry about something. When the eBay invoice comes in and anxiety strikes about you’re going to pay it. Or when you’re spending 2 or 3 hours looking for that £3 computer game you’ve just sold which you know you had yesterday but now seems to have gone the way of the dodo. It’s days like these where I just feel like throwing the towel in. I had a really bad spell of this in October where I went nearly a week without any sales and the eBay invoice was coming due. Then I was lucky because I found about promoting my listings (a feature on eBay where you essentially pay to have your listings higher up the search results). I did this and suddenly my sales rocketed. I’ve not looked back since really. I’ve had days since where there have been no sales. The back end of December and the beginning of January have been particularly slow. But I know now that the sales do come. And when they do I forget all about because of the sense of achievement that comes (see point 3 under positives above again!).
There are some moments on eBay that bring anxiety with them no matter what I do. For some reason every time I get a message on eBay I feel anxious. My mind thinks that it’s a customer writing to complain about something. Or a return request. Or worse eBay telling me that I’m now banned from selling on their platform. It’s all in my head of course. Some customers aren’t happy. No matter what I or anyone else does. Returns happen (they’re a natural part of business). And I’m a top rated seller on eBay with 100% positive feedback (so far anyway touch wood). So it’s unlikely that eBay are going to chuck me off their platform. To be honest most times it’s just a customer messaging me with a question about something that they want to buy rather than any of the worse case scenarios my mind has dreamt up. I’m gradually learning to manage this but I don’t think I’ll ever truly be over this. Well not unless I become an eBay millionaire anyway! And of course, there’s always the sense of achievement I get when it turns out to obe an offer on an item (see point 3 under positives above again – see where this is going now?).
4. Being part of a community
Errm so I listed this as a positive above didn’t I? So what’s going on there then? Well, I do have social anxiety. Mix that in with the Aspergers as well and it can be hard for me to interact with others. Sometimes it’s truly overwhelming. So there are times where I have to take a step back and do something completely different. Step away from Facebook and Youtube and focus on me instead. Step away from eBay itself as well as it can take over my life as well (only temporarily though for an hour or two of course!). This helps protect me from some of the arguments that can go on between other community members. It also means I don’t have to respond to any of them either. Or at least not until I’ve had time to think anyway. I’m sure this is probably a me thing but I find that when people are arguing with each other I can feel really anxious. But then after an hour or two (sometimes longer if I’m feeling completely overwhelmed and drained) I can re-engage and enjoy the positive benefits highlighted in point 4 above 🙂
So overall would I say selling on eBay has been good or bad for my mental health? I’d definitely say good overall. Don’t get me wrong there are times where it’s been hard. Days where I’ve questioned why I’m doing it or even my entire life in general! Moments where I wish I could go back and change things. But overall selling on eBay has given me a real sense of achievement (I should have just called this blog post ‘sense of achievement’ shouldn’t I?). It’s helped improve my self-confidence, boosted my self-esteem and taught me new skills. So if like me you’re struggling with your mental health and considering giving reselling a try but aren’t sure why not get stuck in and see what happens? Just make sure you learn from my mistakes and don’t end up with piles of death full of stock lying around your house!!
Thanks for reading and happy eBaying!
All the best.